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backstory50: Threnody

Opening today, Cleve Gray’s Threnody is on view again as part of the Museum’s 50th anniversary celebration.  

I’ve written a lot about Threnody over the years, but you probably do not know that I’ve written (twice) to Guinness World Records.  Surely, I thought, Threnody has got to be the largest painting in the world! They wrote us back and said no, it definitely wasn’t.  According to GWR, the “largest painting in the world,” is a Buddha created in 2019 by artist Hung Chi-Sung in Taiwan that measures 130,099 square feet. That’s big. Threnody is only (only…) 5000 square feet. Undeterred, I reapplied for Threnody to be considered the largest abstract painting in the world. Rejected again. Not because it isn’t the largest abstract painting in the world, but because there’s no category for that.

No matter what GWR says, we know that Threnody is huge. It is awe-inspiring. And it’s ours. Read more about it in this article in Purchase magazine (Spring 2020) and see it on view now in the Theater Gallery.

Today’s 50th anniversary thank-you goes to Cleve Gray’s two sons, Thaddeus and Luke, for their partnership with the Neuberger Museum of Art over the years and their steadfast stewardship of their father’s artistic legacy. Also, my thanks to the generations of museum workers at the Neuberger who have installed Threnody and written about its importance in so many ways.

Tracy Fitzpatrick
Director, Neuberger Museum of Art

Orange square with a white border and large numbers 50 with small letters neu overlapping the top of the 5 and the word Years beneath

Watch for a new backstory every Wednesday and follow us on social media as we share stories about the Museum’s history, our evolution to the present day, and look ahead to our exciting future. Stay up-to-date with the latest news and “NEU 50 Years” updates on our anniversary webpage.